Professional sport in Hull


Following the announcement on BBC Radio Humberside yesterday that Adam Pearson, Director of Football Operations at Hull City, and former owner,has bought one of Hull’s two rugby league clubs, Hull FC.
So what is odd about this? Hull City is owned by Assem Allam, owner of Allam Marine, a very successful family run local company. Allam took over from Russell Bartlett, a Jersey based businessman, who had made the costly decision to let Paul Duffen run the football club, largely in the owners absence. Despite promotion to the Premier League for the first time in the club’s 104 year history, Duffen’s child-in-a sweet-shop approach, and dubious financial management practices, the club is now reported to have been £200m in debt following relegation from the premier league after 2 seasons. Bartlett sacked Duffen prior to suspended litigation, and Pearson was reinstated as Chairman immediately following his resignation as chairman of Derby County FC. During his season as chairman he set about reducing debts, cancelling the financial misdermeanors of Duffen, shuffling the staff around, and looking for serious investment. This finally happened when Allam took over ownership last season with Bartlett stepping aside after accepting an undisclosed fee and yet another shady owner leaves the club. Hull City appear to attract them.
Stability however, comes at its own fee, and following the Football Associations requisite due diligence process, Allam was £40m lighter of cash.
Allam is recognised for his financial generosity having funded activities at the local university and hospitals, and recently donated £1m to the city’s other rugby league club, Hull Kingston Rivers, owned by local solicitor Neil Hudgell.
But hang on, isn’t he a sponsor and director at Hull City?
Does this complete a triumverate of sporting associations in the city?
If this is so, and some sporting fans in the city aired this concern on local radio yesterday, then is a merger of Hull FC and Hull KR only a matter of years away? The tennis and leisure magnate David Lloyd tried this a decade ago, whilst joint owner of Hull City and Hull FC, but left both clubs when the resilience of the local population to his flash, profit motivated style left him nowhere to go with his ill conceived plan.
Hull is not a place to try to unite sporting differences. The rugby clubs have a proud but partisan history, rather like Liverpool FC and Everton, albeit on a smaller scale.
Shortly after taking over at Hull City, Allam was interviewed on Radio Humberside, and stated that the city could not maintain two rugby clubs.
Quite a portent.

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